50 Years “Kniefall von Warschau”

In search of a new progressive Ostpolitik

In today’s turbulent world, do we need a new progressive Ostpolitik? Join our distinguished guests from Warsaw, Berlin, Brussels and Washington DC to lay the foundation for new approaches to a future-oriented foreign policy.

“Kniefall von Warschau” was a symbolic and historic gesture that occurred during Chancellor Willy Brandt’s visit to Poland in December 1970. At a monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Chancellor Brandt unexpectedly knelt. The trip and that moment was one of the stepping stones towards a new Ostpolitik, aiming at improving relations with the Eastern Bloc while consolidating the West. It significantly contributed to easing geopolitical tensions and has become a blueprint for a paradigm of “change through rapprochement” in foreign policy.


50 years later, we again find ourselves in a turbulent situation. We face the ongoing escalation between the West and Russia. The EU has been struggling with a political crisis, best manifested by the unclear direction of further integration (Brexit) or disputes on shared values (Poland, Hungary). We also seem to lack a smart strategy for an Eastern Partnership, once a flagship foreign policy initiative of the EU. Last but not least, the transatlantic bond weakened by the last four years of the Trump administration demands immediate attention.


With a change of leadership in the US, there is a glimmer of hope that things will change. Inspired by this important anniversary, we want to seek a progressive answer to the challenges we face. What is left of Willy Brandt’s daring and dialogue-based foreign policy today? Do we need a new progressive Ostpolitik?



Please join us for a conversation with:

Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the former President of Poland,

Kati Piri, MEP and Vice-Chair, S&D Group/Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,

Max Bergmann, Senior Fellow/Director of the Moscow Project, Center for American Progress,

Liana Fix, Programme Director, International Affairs, Körber-Stiftung,


with the introduction by László Andor, Secretary-General,
Foundation for European Progressive Studies,


on 8 December 2020 at 3:00 pm CET // 9:00 am ET.


The event will take place online. Registration for this event is closed, for late registration please contact events@progressives-zentrum.org



This event is co-hosted by



This event is organized with the financial support of the European Parliament. The views presented in this debate do not represent those of the European Parliament but only of the respective speakers.



Maria Skóra

Event Date

8 December 2020